♫Jingle bells, Fido smells, Granny fed him something strange…♫
There’s no denying that Christmas is an eventful time of year. Your time and energy are in high demand so throwing an overexcited or anxious pet into the mix can feel like the last straw.
Whilst we can’t help you achieve the perfect spuds, we can give you some advice for happier pets. It comes in three stages – Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future! Let’s start by stepping back in time.
Learn from Christmas Past
The best way to have a brilliant festive season with your pets is to learn from previous experience – AKA Christmases past. Take a trip down memory lane to identify your pet’s festive behaviour traits in the categories below. (We’ll guide you through how to handle each personality type in the next section.)
You have a Festive Fido if your pet is happy, calm, and a delight to have around during the festive period. They love to meet visitors but aren’t too bothered about decorations or disruption. Your Festive Fido will take everything in their stride – the playful icing on your Christmas cake!
Party Popping Pet
The Party Popping Pet tends to take things a bit far. He or she sees the decorations as dog toys to be destroyed, the Christmas tree as a climbing frame, and every guest as a new playmate. Fun, playful, and easily excited, these cats and dogs may make you giggle, but they can also put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
Can’t turn your back on the Christmas treats for a second? Sounds like you’ve got a Greedy Guts on your hands. Both dogs and cats can be culprits in this situation (not to mention humans!). From the counter-surfers to the cupboard openers, the Christmas gifts unwrapper right through to the advent calendar and Christmas decoration scoffers, festive success is all about preparation and prevention if you’ve got a Greedy Guts in tow, who believes everything is a dog treat!
Finally, we have the Christmas-haters. Many dogs and cats find new things, visitors, and a disruption to their routine stressful and even scary. If your pet tends to shy away from visitors, or go off their food over the festive period, it may be that are finding the festivities a scary ordeal.
Christmas Present – things to do for a fantastic festive season
Now that you’ve identified your pet’s festive personality type, here’s how to handle it with a look at the Christmas Present:
Managing your Festive Fido
Though your pet may seem in perfect spirits, it’s important to keep an eye on their diet and be mindful of their stress levels. Sometimes seemingly happy pets are actually feeling quite anxious – it’s a good idea to learn the signs of nervous dogs and worried cats so you can manage their environment if you notice that their behaviour is out-of-sorts.
- Keep up their routine and don’t forget to give them lots of attention.
- Remember their Christmas present – we’ll be sharing some suggestions soon.
- Remind little ones to be gentle, and to only ever stroke with one hand – this stops your pet feeling smothered.
- Always supervise pets and children.
Getting your Party Popper under control
Of all the pet personalities, these super-fun, super-playful pets can prove to be the most challenging to manage. Mostly it’s about keeping them safe, and managing their energy levels.
Your pets’ playful nature can put them at risk of festive injuries, so be sure that they are always supervised. You should consider keeping the festive fun in a single room. This way, you can close the door and keep your pet out if need be but be sure that they’re got something to keep them occupied and happy away from the rest of the fun.
- Avoid flashing lights as they’re particularly tempting to dogs and cats who like to play and chew.
- Make sure wires and presents aren’t accessible and consider a baby pen/barrier around the tree if you can’t keep your unsupervised pet in a different room.
- Watch out for pine needles as they can get stick in paws and a dogs coat - ouch!
- Don’t buy glass ornaments. Bouncy dogs and fragile decor don’t make a happy mix.
- Don’t shout at them if they’re ‘naughty’, it’s better to encourage good behaviour through positive reinforcement.
We already know that a Greedy Guts will take advantage of every opportunity to tuck in. It’s not easy to keep all food out of reach, but with a bit of forethought, practice, and preparation it is possible.
- Wear them out by getting out in the fresh air away from all the tempting treats!
- Have some fun with brain games for dogs and cats to distract these cheeky guzzlers.
- Prepare the Kongs! You can feed your dog their daily ration in Kongs (add water and freeze if they get kibble) to keep them food-focused in the right way!
- Make the family aware by having a strict ‘no human food for pets’ rule and enforce it . Pets find inconsistency confusing, and humans can easily get mixed up about what’s pet-safe and what’s not so it’s in everyone’s interests to be clear and stick to the rules you set.
- Give them some quiet time. Use a crate if you have a dog, or a quiet room for cats, especially if you’re preparing food or can’t properly supervise.
- Be wary of edible decorations and presents because dogs have an amazing sense of smell. Wrapping paper might fool you but rest assured that Greedy Guts will sniff out the tasty treats in seconds.
- Try a present shelf or pop a guard around the tree to reduce scrounging.
- Invest in child locks if you’ve got a particularly clever cat or dog. Keep tempting and poisonous treats in a kitchen cupboard, safely locked away.
For the pets who find the festive season stressful, there are plenty of ways to help. Try and reduce disruption by keeping decorations and visitors in one area of the home, away from your pet’s bed. Dogs can benefit from a calming supplement like YuCALM Dog (starting a couple of weeks before Christmas). Simply add a couple of drops to their water bowl.
- Don’t encourage children to play with your pet if he or she seems fearful or stressed.
- Let your pet hide if he or she wants to, even on ‘the big day’.
- Don’t dress your dog up, or make your cat wear a festive collar.
- Try and stick to their routine, don’t skip walkies or their evening saucer of cat-milk.
Christmas Future – prepare for every eventuality
What if something goes wrong on the day? We haven’t got a crystal ball, but we have got some suggestions to prepare for a safe, happy Christmas.
There’s no need to share your Christmas dinner
A big bowl of festive cheer may be a delicious treat, but a sudden change of diet can lead to *ahem* digestive wobbles. Have some other treats like our YuDIGEST tablets on hand so that your pet doesn’t feel like he or she is missing out on all the fun (and you can actually aid their digestive systems in the process!). A small amount of lean white meat (less than half their full ration) is another less-risky treat.
Check your vet’s festive opening times
Most vets provide 24/7 emergency care, but it’s a good idea to make yourself a list of opening hours and addresses. It might also be a good idea to have a pet-friendly taxi number if you’re not planning on having a designated driver in the house.
Be tummy-rumble ready
Stock up on YuDIGEST PLUS for Dogs (it also works for cats), and have some chicken and rice on standby in case treats are sneaked and tummies get a bit sensitive.
Make a pet first aid kit
Antiseptic wipes, gauzes, bandages, and a skin salve might all come in handy.
Have fun together!
Don’t forget to include your pet in your festive plans. Make your dog’s day and get the whole family out for a fun Christmas hike, and indulge your cat with lots of games and fuss if they enjoy attention. Christmas is a time for family and at Lintbells we believe that pets are right at the heart of the festive season.
Do you think your pet is a Festive Fido or a Greedy Guts? Have you got some festive photos to share or suggestions for enjoying the festive season with your pets? We’d love to hear about how you celebrate, so please do leave a comment and join the Lintbells community on Facebook and Instagram.